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Muma College of Business Researchers, Students to Assist in Analyzing Biometric Data Collected at Feb. 19 Democratic Presidential Debate

By Keith Morelli

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TAMPA (February 12, 2020) -- So, how do you feel about the Democratic presidential candidates? Really?

Come Feb 19, if you’re part of a group watching the nationally televised debate in Room 1034 in the CIS Building, the answer to that question and several others answers won’t be spoken. Rather, it will be relayed through impulses transmitted through your skin into a database that won’t allow for vague, less-than-honest answers.

The group will be connected to some groundbreaking software that is being showcased by a business partner of the USF Muma College of Business’ Center for Marketing and Sales Innovation and the results of the real-time data collected will be crunched and made available within an hour or two after the debate concludes.

Rob Hammond, a marketing instructor and director of the center, said this differs from most polls taken after a debate in that the biometric responses are not filtered through the brain.

“That response can be tempered, inflated or suppressed entirely,” Hammond said. “There is also the scenario where the person responds with how they want to be perceived rather than what he or she actually thinks.

“With biometrics, the brain is removed from the feedback loop,” he said. “With biometrics, you get direct feedback on the person’s emotions. It is unfiltered.”

The college will recruit between 30 and 35 students and faculty to watch the debate live. They will wear wireless sensors that measure biometric responses to determine how they react to certain candidates, issues and policies discussed. The findings will identify the “high points” and “low points” in real time during the debate and analyze which candidate generated the most response.

Hammond said the software developed by business partner Shimmer has been used in measuring reaction during the 2019 Super Bowl as well as a debate over Brexit in the United Kingdom. To read more about the Super Bowl study, click here.

To read the case study about the Brexit findings, click here